Friday, March 28, 2008

The Latest in Singles

Flo Rida F/ Timbaland - Elevator

Flo Rida sure does love the ladies. I'm all for guys making strictly dance cuts to get the floor filled, and so far he's 2-for-2, but for all his massive success, I just wish the guy had a little more personality in his songs. I really can't tell the difference between him and a hundred other guys. The production saves the day once again, but barely. Rating: 6

Girls Aloud - Can't Speak French

Enjoy this while it lasts. There will come a time when Girls Aloud isn't the greatest singles group in the world and we're left to deal with someone far less exciting. They've covered a multitude of genres through their short career and this time up, they've given us a delicious slice of pop-funk. Relish the moment, people. Rating: 9

MGMT - Time To Pretend

I can't help but think of late 90's era-Flaming Lips whenever I listen to this song with all its fuzz and psychedelia. There possibly might have been more drugs around for this track. Not sure if I love or hate the video quite yet, but I do know I've never seen anything like it before. Rating: 8

Rocko-Umma Do Me

If you can make it past the first 50 seconds, you are a much stronger person than I am. But since I want to give every song on here a fair chance, I'm kinda left without choice but to endure this lyrical trainwreck. Now, I understand that a lot of these ringtone rap guys are not trying to be MCs, but I could at least give them a pass if the production was good enough (see: "Crank Dat", "Walk It Out"). Everything about this song just depresses me. I'm all for swagger when there's someone charismatic behind it, but here, Rocko's boasts are just so uninspired and boring. Not to mention that by this point I feel like I've heard this beat about 40 times elsewhere before. If ever a song screamed quick cash-in, this it. Seriously folks, I'm still sad minutes after listening to this. I need a drink. Rating: 0

Raven Symone-Double Dutch Bus

This cover of Frankie Smith's classic song has some potential. The synths were pretty delicious, but it just needed a bit of a harder edge. The original is fun and has its goofy moments, but dammit, it was funky. If you're going to tackle this, you have to convincingly sound like you've played a good deal of double dutch on the sidewalk. Raven does not have this conviction. Rating: 5

The Ruby Suns-Tane Mahuta

Join hands across the world. Bask in the sunlight. Kiss your neighbor on the cheek. Hit repeat. Rating: 9

Estelle F/ Kanye West - American Boy

Excuse me for swooning, but I didn't know that Estelle could sound this sexy. "I Wanna Love You" was pretty romantic, but I imagined more hand-holding than hip-hugging with that song. On "American Boy", she's more sultry and relaxed and the results overall are pretty intoxicating. I just wish we could have had a stronger Kanye verse, or else this would have been a classic. Rating: 8

Erykah Badu - Honey

Erykah isn't really covering much new ground here, but she always manages to sound fresh. It's been a while since a record has made me smile like this. Also, I just realized that she's one of the most underrated video artists of our time. All of her videos have impressed me. Rating: 8

Modest Mouse-Fly Trapped In A Jar

It's weird. This song reminds me of "Float On" and Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out" in certain spots, which is odd because they were both big indie rock hits at the same time. If that was the intention, I'm both amazed at the audacity and success in execution. Rating: 8

Art Brut - Pump Up The Volume

Even though Eddie Argos talks in damn near the same cadence on every Art Brut song, I could never get tired of it because his lyrics are always so vivid and hilarious. Plus, that voice was made for rock 'n roll anyway. Rating: 8

Missy Elliott - Ching-A-Ling

Remember a time whenever the new Missy lead single used to drop, it was an event and the nation lost its collective shit? While this song isn't going to have everyone in a frenzy, it is nice to see that she still has some of that same energy from the earlier part of this decade. I will say that it is refreshing to hear a hip hop song this danceable and not take itself too seriously. Been way too long since we've had one of these. Missy, you have been missed. Rating: 7

Jay-Z - I Know

Hip hop and personification seem to always go well together. Those that are savvy enough to attempt it are usually among the most talented (i.e., Nas, Common). After listening to this nimble and deft metaphor for drugs, I'm left wondering what took an MC of Jay-Z's caliber so long to do a concept song. Also, this is probably the best Neptunes beat I've heard in a good year or two. Rating: 9

Sam Sparro - Black & Gold

Do guys even sing over schaffel beats? All the schaffel songs I've heard seem to have female voices on them, but this groove is so nasty that I could really care less. And besides, Sam here has the right amount of flair needed for a track like this, so it's all good. Rating: 8

Jordin Sparks w/ Chris Brown-No Air

I like the song alright, but Jordin and Chris aren't doing much for me vocally. It's just not connecting with me, even though it's a solid job technically. This record could grow on me around the 500th listen, but for now, it's a 6.

Janet Jackson-Rock With U

Now this is the kind of stuff Janet should be doing a regular basis. Over the past couple of albums, it felt as if Janet forgot what it was like to be a dance artist. You gotta stay on the cutting edge, luv. Take some risks. Stay current. Think sexy thoughts when you're in the recording booth. Rating: 8

Kate Nash-Pumpkin Soup

This song is the very definition of exuberant. I know the video is very polarizing, but try if you can to direct your attention away from it and on to the giddy-with-hip hop charms of the song. What you'll find is a song that will be as hard to get out of your head as anything you've come across this year. Rating: 8

Neon Neon-I Lust U

What helps this track stand out in my mind is hearing Gruff Rhys singing over it. It would have already been solid with just Cate Le Bon, but Rhys adds a ton of character and his voice has a tone that's not heard too often in electronic music. Rating: 7

Ludo-Love Me Dead

If MTV still played videos on a regular basis, these guys would be huge. Is there any doubt after looking at that video? And the redeeming part is that pretty much all their songs have a lot of the same energy and humor. They're emo on the surface, but their heart is purely power pop. Note to self: must bring "fingerbangin' my heart" into the lexicon for '08. Rating: 8

Tiffany Evans-I'm Grown

She's a lot more interesting when she's doing the electro thing (see: "Promise Ring" and whatever song that was that played for the first 30 seconds of the video). Here she's paired up with the king of ordinary, Mr. Bow Wow himself, and the result is something very...ordinary. Rating: 6

Talib Kweli-Hostile Gospel Pt. 1 (Deliver Us)

More tracks like this and I might consider Talib a top 10 MC (active, not all time) once again. Few are better at efficiently combining wordplay and content. Rating: 8

Wiz Khalifa-Say Yeah

See! I don't hate all ringtone rap. I'm a very fair person. When the production takes chances and tries something different, I salute them. When they succeed, I stand up and applaud. Fair attention should be pay to Wiz himself, who if you didn't notice, switches up the flow a little bit unlike most of the contemporaries in his field. What really brings a tear of joy to my eye is when you can get people in the club on hip hop night bouncing and poppin' to an Alice Deejay sample. The world of pop is a beautiful thing. Rating: 8

Clinic-The Witch

Wow. Excuse me for a second while I collect myself. I just can't believe this is Clinic. They've basically been putting me to sleep for the last two albums and I'm just in shock that they've actually recorded something good and lively. Whoa. Rating: 7

Hercules & Love Affair-Blind

This isn't even trying to be neo-disco or a cool update or anything. This track has got strobelites for pupils and it's stuck doing the time warp in 1978. Rating: 9

Ludacris-Down In The Dirty

Do bangers even exist any more? It's been a while since I've heard some lyrical heavyweights over a track this blazing. These hot collabs used to be all over the place in the late 90's and early 00's. Please let this track make top 20 so it will inspire a more banger-rific 2008. Amen. Rating: 8 (but it could have easily been a 9 if Rick Ross' verse was stronger)

Tally Hall-Good Day

One of the things I love about Tally Hall is their song structures and arrangements. On the surface, you go, "Oh, just another plain power pop boy band", but then you get to the chorus of "Good Day" and an eyebrow is raised. Then there's that coda towards the end of the song which just seems to come out nowhere but still fits. Can you imagine the craziness these guys could create if they dropped acid? Rating: 7

The Roots-Get Busy

That synth bass is ruuuuuuuuude. Rating: 8

Santogold-L.E.S. Artistes

This track makes me think of what it might have sounded like if it were Cyndi Lauper & The Banshees instead of Siouxsie. It's like the song is trying too hard to show you how cool the artist's music collection is. Some good ideas, but there's no big payoff. Rating: 6


It's always an intoxicating combination when you've got a great groove and a catchy hook. It's just hard to go wrong with those two. As danceable as their songs are, I don't think Justice gets nearly half as much credit for their songcraft. Rating: 9

Lil' Wayne-Lollipop

I've heard Lil' Wayne spit better verses before, but this is the kind of accessible track that could finally give him a crossover pop hit and make him the new mainstream darling. Still, it doesn't really impress me that much. Rating: 6

Del Tha Funkee Homosapien-Workin' It

I think Del's purpose in life was to rap over sci-fi beats and make them sound ill. I know he started out doing the funk thing, but stuff like this is really more his element. For all the crazy beats that he's rapped over in the past several years, it's easy to forget that the guy has a seasoned flow. Rating: 7

Be Your Own Pet-The Kelly Affair

Nowhere near as sloppy as the previous stuff, but there's no denying it's BYOP. It's still packed with a raucous spirit and youthful energy. I had to restrain myself several times from breaking stuff while listening to this. Whoooo! Rating: 7

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